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Government nuclear plan a ‘wish list’ not a detailed strategy, say MPs

todayAugust 11, 2023 3

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Government nuclear plan a ‘wish list’ not a detailed strategy, say MPs

A government vision to ramp up the UK’s nuclear power is more of a “wish list” than a detailed strategy, according to a report.

MPs on parliament’s science committee said questions remained over the plan to hit 24 gigawatts by 2050 – the same year it’s pledged to achieve net-zero emissions.

The report backed the target but said the government’s energy security plan, published in March, gave little detail of how it will be achieved.

Plans don’t “amount to the comprehensive, detailed and specific strategy that we believe is required if the government’s aspirations are to be delivered”, according to MPs.

Committee chair Greg Clark said the 24-gigawatt target would be “almost double the highest level of nuclear generation that the UK has ever attained”.

He added: “The only way to achieve this is to translate these very high-level aspirations into a comprehensive, concrete and detailed nuclear strategic plan which is developed jointly with the nuclear industry, which enjoys long-term cross-party political commitment and which therefore offers dependability for private and public investment decisions.”

The 118-page report also raised concerns over Great British Nuclear (GBN), a body involved in developing smaller-scale nuclear technology projects.

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps earlier this month said GBN would play a vital part of a UK nuclear energy “renaissance”.

But the report said there was “ambiguity over what GBN’s exact remit will be in the future, beyond running a SMR (small modular reactor) competition”.

The science committee urged a “more comprehensive statement of GBN’s remit, operational model and budget, and its intended role with respect to ministers and government departments”.

The proposed Sizewell C site. Pic: EDF

Image:
Sizewell C has been approved for the Suffolk coast. Pic: EDF

Campaigners against the Sizewell C nuclear plant – to be built in Suffolk – also welcomed a call for more clarity over how large projects are financed, after the report said “robust estimates” were vital in deciding whether such schemes should go ahead.

The Stop Sizewell C group said it supported the committee’s call for the government to publish details on Sizewell C’s cost and value as it “will expose just how unjustifiable this slow, risky, expensive project is”.

However, a spokesperson said it was dismayed that MPs “ignored legitimate concerns about whether nuclear can deliver reliable, affordable electricity”.

Addressing the concerns over a lack of detail, a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We have already made clear we will publish a nuclear roadmap and consult on alternative routes to market by the end of the year.

“Nuclear has a vital role to play in reaching net zero and boosting energy security – just last week we launched Great British Nuclear which will help generate billions for the UK economy and support thousands of jobs.”

Read more:
Sunak heads to Scotland for Net Zero energy policy push

Why taxpayers will share the pain of cost of building Sizewell C

Professor Adrian Bull, from the Dalton Nuclear Institute at University of Manchester, said he supported the MPs’ key recommendation of a nuclear strategic review.

He said it would “give clear direction to Great British Nuclear and other bodies on how to proceed towards the 2050 target”.

“That plan would give clarity and confidence to businesses in the sector and to the thousands of new recruits needed to support delivery of such an ambitious programme… Unless a clear and comprehensive plan is produced soon, we’re sure to fail,” he added.

Written by: Newsroom

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